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(C) Alexander Volkanovski vs Brian Ortega – Featherweight Championship
(C) Valentina Shevchenko vs Lauren Murphy – Women’s Flyweight Championship
Nick Diaz vs Robbie Lawler – Welterweight Division
Curtis Blaydes vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik – Heavyweight Division
Jessica Andrade vs Cynthia Calvillo – Women’s Flyweight Division
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|Alexander Volkanovski||TALE OF THE TAPE||Brian Ortega|
|5 ft. 6 in.||Height||5 ft. 9 in.|
|71 in.||Reach||69 in.|
|22-1||Record||15-1, 1 no-contest|
Signing with the UFC in 2016, Volkanovski has nine consecutive wins with the promotion.
It was in 2018 when Volkanovski really got noticed following his TKO win over former title challenger Chad Mendes.
He opened even more eyes following that win when he fought and defeated the man many consider to be the greatest featherweight of all time: Jose Aldo. He defeated Aldo via unanimous decision at UFC 237 in 2019.
Following the win over Aldo, Volkanovski was granted a title shot against the only other man many would consider the greatest featherweight of all time: Max Holloway.
Volkanovski fought Holloway at UFC 245 in December of 2019 and earned the unanimous decision win – earning him the undisputed UFC championship.
The two would rematch the following summer at UFC 251. Volkanovski would eke out a split decision over Holloway – cementing him as a true champion.
Following the Holloway rematch, Volkanovski took time off to recover from a nasty leg injury and infection. It was then announced that he would defend his title against Brian Ortega this past March. Ultimately the fight was canceled with the champion testing positive for COVID-19.
It was then announced that the two men would go head-to-head on the comeback season of The Ultimate Fighter and then fight each other for the title once the season had ended.
Fighting since 2012, Volkanovski trains out of his home country of Australia with the renowned City Kickboxing team as well as with Tiger Muay Thai and the Freestyle Fighting Gym.
A former rugby player, Volkanovski holds a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Joe Lopez and is a former AFC featherweight champion. He is currently ranked as the fourth-best pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC promotion.
Despite being the shorter fighter, the champion will enter the cage Saturday night with a two-inch reach advantage over his opponent.
The story of Brian Ortega is an interesting one as Saturday will mark his second chance at the UFC featherweight title.
Signing with the UFC as an undefeated fighter in 2014, Ortega won his first six fights for the promotions (after a no-contest debut). Following an incredible knockout win over former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, Ortega was granted a shot at the title against champion Max Holloway.
The two fought in 2018 at UFC 231 in what would go down in history as one of the most one-sided fights in UFC history, with Holloway earning the doctor’s stoppage TKO at the end of the fourth round.
Ortega has only fought once since and it was two years later. In October 2020, Ortega defeated the fan-favorite Chan “The Korean Zombie” Sung Jung.
He has yet to fight in 2021. As mentioned earlier, Ortega was expected to fight Volkanovski in April but the fight was canceled. The two then spent the past several months on the TUF reality series.
r his grappling prowess, boasting a first-degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Rener Gracie.
Competing since 2010, Ortega trains with the Gracie University as well as with the Huntington Beach Ultimate Training Center.
He is ranked as the number-two featherweight in the division and will stand three inches taller than the champion come Saturday night.
|Valentina Shevchenko||TALE OF THE TAPE||Lauren Murphy|
|5 ft. 5 in.||Height||5 ft. 5 in.|
|66.5 in.||Reach||67 in.|
As is usually the case when Valentina Shevchenko fights, the women’s flyweight champion is the largest betting favorite on the main card, standing as a -1400 favorite!
With only two losses on her UFC record (and both of them coming against women’s GOAT Amanda Nunes), Shevchenko captured the vacant flyweight title in a fight against Joanna Jedrzejczyk in 2018 and hasn’t looked back.
Shevchenko has already defended her title five times – a stretch that included a head-kick KO of Jessica Eye, a TKO win over Katlyn Chookagian, and – most recently – a second-round TKO over former women’s strawweight champion Jessica Andrade at UFC 261 this past April.
Born in Kyrgyzstan, Valentina Shevchenko has been training muay thai for most of her life and has won gold eight times and silver once at the muay thai World Championships.
Training under Pavel Fedotov and the Tiger Muay Thai team, the champion holds a second-dan black belt and master of sports in taekwondo, an international master of sports in muay thai, a master of sports in boxing and kickboxing, and black belt and master of sports in judo.
The southpaw fighter has been competing in mixed martial arts since 2003 and is currently ranked as the second-best pound-for-pound fighter in the UFc behind only double-champ Amanda Nunes.
She is five-years younger than Lauren Murphy.
Despite being nicknamed ‘Lucky’, Lauren Murphy more than deserves to be fighting for the title after what she’s accomplished. However, Valentina Shevchenko is a huge step up in competition compared to who Murphy has beaten to get here.
Currently riding a five-fight winning streak, Murphy’s current runs has seen her TKO Mara Romero Borella, submit Liliya Shakirova, and – most recently – defeat Joanne Calderwood via split-decision this past June at UFC 263.
Born in Alaska, Murphy now lives and trains out of Arizona. She credits much of her recent success to switching gyms – having been training with Main Street boxing and Muay Thai as well as with Grindhouse MMA since 2019.
He holds a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under John Crouch and is currently ranked as the third-best women’s flyweight in the promotion.
She will have a slight, half-inch reach advantage over the champion.
|Nick Diaz||TALE OF THE TAPE||Robbie Lawler|
|6 ft. 1 in.||Height||5 ft. 11 in.|
|76 in.||Reach||74 in.|
|26-9, 2 no-contest||Record||28-15, 1 no-contest|
An occasion that many thought would never happen, Saturday night will mark Nick Diaz’s first UFC fight in over five and a half years – and he takes on a man he fought 17-years ago.
This fight will also mark only the second time that a non-title, non-main event fight will last five rounds.
Debuting for the promotion in 2003, Nick Diaz’s first UFC run saw him go 6-4 with the company. Diaz then left the UFC to fight with Elite XC and eventually Strikeforce, where he became the inaugural welterweight champion.
He defended the title three times before vacating the belt and returning to the UFC in 2011 to take on BJ Penn at UFC 137 (Diaz won that comeback fight via unanimous decision).
Diaz then took on Carlos Condit for the interim welterweight championship as the champion Georges St. Pierre was unable to compete. Diaz lost the bout to Condit via decision.
Despite the loss, Diaz was still granted a shot at GSP’s undisputed welterweight title in the main event of UFC 158 in 2013. Diaz couldn’t handle the wrestling prowess of St. Pierre and ultimately lost the unanimous decision.
Diaz would fight for the UFC just once more after that – two years later at UFC 183 where he took on Anderson Silva. On the night, the judges’ decision went in favor of Silva but the result was later overturned to a no-contest as Silva tested positive for drostanolone and androsterone. Diaz also tested positive for marijuana.
Nick Diaz has not fought for the UFC (or any mixed martial arts promotion) since the fight against Silva.
Famously from Stockton, California, Diaz trains with his brother Nate and the well-known Gracie family. He trains out of the Cesar Gracie Jiu-jitsu school with boxing coach Richard Perez and BJJ coach Cesar Gracie – whom Diaz holds a third-degree black belt under.
He began his mixed martial arts career in 2001 and on top of being a former Strikeforce champion, Diaz held gold in both the WEC and IFC as well.
Diaz won the first fight against Robbie Lawler in 2004 at UFC 47 via second-round knockout.
Much like Nick Diaz, Robbie Lawler’s UFC career is split into two different eras.
He first debuted for the promotion in 2002 at UFC 37 and went 4-3 before leaving the company and fighting for promotions such as Elite XC and Strikeforce.
Lawler returned to the UFC in 2013 and eventually won the welterweight title from Johnny Hendricks via split-decision at UFC 181 in 2014.
He defended the belt twice against Carlos Condit and Rory MacDonald before being knocked out in the first round by Tyron Woodley at UFC 201.
Since losing his championship, Lawler has gone just 1-4 with the promotion, with those four losses coming consecutively following a win over Donald Cerrone.
His most recent performance came against Neil Magny, who defeated Lawler last August via unanimous decision. Lawler hasn’t fought since.
Born in California, Lawler has been training with the Sanford MMA team since 2017. He is a former student of both American Top Team and the Miletich Fighting Systems teams.
Known for his knockout power, Lawler has been fighting since 2001 and has also held gold in Elite XC as their middleweight champion. He is also the only fighter to win three consecutive Fight of the Year awards.
At the time of writing, Lawler is ranked as number 15 in the UFC welterweight division.
He will be at a two-inch reach disadvantage when he fights Diaz Saturday night.
|Curtis Blaydes||TALE OF THE TAPE||Jairzinho Rozenstruik|
|6 ft. 4 in.||Height||6 ft. 2 in.|
|80 in.||Reach||78 in.|
|14-3, 1 no-contest||Record||12-2|
Curtis Blaydes did not have a debut that many would be jealous of, taking on Francis Ngannou in 2016 and losing the fight via second-round TKO.
But blaydes would bounce back after that loss, as he went on to win his next five fights in a row (with a no-contest mixed in). Unfortunately, his winning streak would be snapped by his UFC nemesis: Francis Ngannou.
The two rematched in 2018 and it took Ngannou just 45-seconds to knock out Blaydes.
But, again, Blaydes would bounce back. He followed the second loss to Ngannou with four straight wins – a streak that included TKO wins over Shamil Abdurakhimov and Junior dos Santos.
Blaydes’ most recent octagon appearance came against Derrick Lewis in the main event of their February Fight Night card.
Blaydes was knocked out by Lewis in the second round of the bout.
Born in Illinois, Curtis Blaydes currently trains with the Elevation Fight Team.
Competing since 2014, Blaydes boasts NJCAA wrestling credentials as well as a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Cody Donovan.
Blaydes will hold a two-inch reach advantage over his opponent Saturday night and will stand two-inches taller.
He is currently the number four ranked UFC heavyweight.
Kickboxer-turned-MMA fighter Jairzinho Rozenstruik entered the UFC in 2019 boasting a perfect 6-0 record. He would go on to win his first four UFC fights in a row, a run that included wins over the likes of Andrei Arlovski and Alistair Overeem.
Following the win over Overeem in 2019, Rozenstruik called out Francis Ngannou and paid the price for it in their 2020 fight at UFC 249. Ngannou knocked out Rozenstruik in just 20 seconds.
Since suffering his first professional loss to Ngannou, Rozenstruik has gone 2-1. He defeated former champion Junior dos Santos via TKO at UFC 252.
Earlier this year, he found himself on the losing end of a unanimous decision against Cyril Gane.
He most recently battled Augusto Sakai this past June and earned a TKO victory (as well as a performance bonus) over his opponent.
The Surinamese fighter spends time training in his home country with Team Bigi Boy and spends his time in the United States training with American Top Team with coach Michael Babb.
He has been active in MMA since 2012 and boasts a professional kickboxing record of 76-8-1.
Rozenstruik is a former WLF super heavyweight tournament champion and is currently ranked as the sixth-best UFC heavyweight in the division.
|Jessica Andrade||TALE OF THE TAPE||Cynthia Calvillo|
|5 ft. 2 in.||Height||5 ft. 4 in.|
|62 in.||Reach||64 in.|
Riding a three-fight winning streak into 2019, Jessica Andrade was granted a shot at the women’s strawweight title at UFC 237 – and she made it count.
Andrade took on champion Rose Namajunas and knocked the champ out in the second round with a slam.
However, since winning the title, Andrade’s career has seen mixed results.
Andrade immediately lost her title to Zhang Weili via TKO in 2019 and subsequently lost a rematch with Rose Namajunas via split-decision at UFC 251.
“Bate Estaca” then decided to make the move up in weight to the flyweight division. She made her debut at 125-pounds against former title challenger Katlyn Chookagian. Andrade would TKO Chookagian in the first round.
The win earned Andrade a shot at flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko (mostly due to a lack of viable opponents at the time). The two met at UFC 261 this past April and Andrade was finished in the second round via TKO.
Still only 29-years-old, the Brazilian-born Andrade trains out of Rio de Janeiro with the Paraná Vale Tudo team.
Competing since 2011, Jessica Andrade holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Gilliard Parana.
She is currently ranked as the number-one flyweight contender and is number-six on the women’s list of pound-for-pound best.
Fighter Cynthia Calvillo is another fighter that recently moved to the flyweight division. A former flyweight in her pre-UFC days, Calvillo fought her first seven fights for UFC at strawweight but missed weight for three of those appearances.
Calvillo made the move back up to 125-pounds last June and defeated former title challenger Jessica Eye via unanimous decision.
Her most recent fight came against another former title challenger – Katlyn Chookagian – at UFC 255 last November. Unfortunately for Calvillo, she lost the fight via unanimous decision.
Born in California, the 34-year-old was a student of Team Alpha Male before switching her training camps over to the American Kickboxing Academy early last year.
She has been competing in MMA since 2010 and is currently ranked as number five in the UFC women’s flyweight division.
She will enter the octagon Saturday night with a two-inch reach advantage and will stand two inches taller than Jessica Andrade.
|UFC 266 Information|
|Fight||UFC 266: Volkanovski vs Ortega|
|Location||T-Mobile Arena, Paradise, Nevada|
|Time||Saturday, September 25, 10PM EST|
|How to watch||PPV, ESPN+, UFC Fight Pass|
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